Consumers associations in competition proceedings: Why so little engagement? (New Frontiers of Antitrust Conference - Paris, 11 February 2011)

This third roundtable of the conference "New frontiers of Antitrust", Paris, 11 February 2011, was dedicated to the role of consumers associations in competition proceedings. According to William E. Kovacic, Commissioner at the US Federal Trade Commission, competition and consumer protection agencies could improve their effectiveness by engaging other institutions to assist them in formulating and carrying out competition policy programs. Such organizations located outside the framework of government departments could serve as valuable “co-producers” of competition policy. Prof. Laurence Idot, in the second paper, demonstrates that consumers associations have a lot of rights in French Law and may easily bring a case before the Competition Authority. However, the practical use of these rights is very weak whatever the type of proceedings. The raison for such little engagement, which cannot be explained by legal reasons, is likely to be found in the weakness of material means. A possible solution could be to introduce consultation in all cases having a direct impact on consumers. M. Philip Evans, author of the third paper and member of the UK Competition Commission, assess submissions made by the UK Consumers’ Association between February 1996 and October 2005. Finally, M. David Ortega, author of the last paper, contends that consumers play a central role in competition policy. Nevertheless, the participation of consumers and their representatives in competition proceedings is scarce for various reasons.

Non-government organizations as co-producers for competition and consumer protection policy William E. KOVACIC Commissioner, US Federal Trade Commission Professor, George Washington University Law School The views expressed here are the author’s alone. Parts of this article are adapted from William E. Kovacic, The Federal Trade Commission at 100: Into Our 2nd Century (Jan. 2009), available at I. Introduction 1. Competition agencies often face a mismatch between the substantive responsibilities assigned to them by their legislatures and the resources available to fulfill them. The former routinely exceed the latter. The gap between mandates and means tends to expand in times of economic hardship. 2. One reason that policy

Access to this article is restricted to subscribers

Already Subscribed? Sign-in

Access to this article is restricted to subscribers.

Read one article for free

Sign-up to read this article for free and discover our services.


PDF Version


  • University Paris II Panthéon‑Assas
  • British Competition Authority - CMA (London)
  • Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU)
  • British Competition Authority - CMA (London)


Laurence Idot, William E. Kovacic, David M. Ortega Pecina, Phil Evans, Consumers associations in competition proceedings: Why so little engagement? (New Frontiers of Antitrust Conference - Paris, 11 February 2011), May 2011, Concurrences N° 2-2011, Art. N° 35831,

Visites 1339

All reviews